Online Communities and Crowds (Winter 2022)/Graduate section

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Online Communities & Crowds
Media, Technology & Society (MTS) 525 (graduate)
Section meetings: Thursday 10am-11:30am CT
(in-person) Frances Searle Building, Room 2-370
(remote) Zoom (NU authentication required)
Winter, 2022
Northwestern University
Instructor: Aaron Shaw (
Office Hours: Wednesdays 12:30-2:30pm and by-appointment.
Please signup for office hours appointments (and check that page for details).
Also usually available via Discord for chat during "business hours."


Welcome to the graduate section page for the Winter 2022 MTS 525 course, Online communities & crowds! We'll use this page to coordinate section-specific resources and activities.

All course policies and expectations are detailed and/or linked on the main page for the course. Please see that material and get in touch with your questions or concerns.

Section-specific items[edit]

Section meetings[edit]

Synchronous section will take place Thursdays 10am-11:30am. For the moment, we're meeting on Zoom (meeting link (NU account signin required)). With a little luck, we'll be back on campus soon in Frances Searle Building Room 2-370.

Collaborative notes[edit]

During our section meetings, I (Aaron) will try to maintain some notes and agenda items in this etherpad. If you haven't used it before, Etherpad is a lightweight collaborative text editing tool that I prefer for this kind of thing. I encourage you to join me there and collaborate on the note-taking. Indeed, I suggest that we rotate the responsibility of lead note-taker around the group each week (we'll see what people think of that during our first session).

Discussion memos[edit]

Graduate students in the course are required to submit discussion memos via Canvas no later than Tuesday at 9pm CT each week (with the exception of weeks 1 and 10). The memos are intended to facilitate digestion of the reading/viewing materials ahead of each discussion section. They should be short (400-500 words) and should synthesize central arguments and/or themes of readings/viewings. You may also utilize the readings to develop novel, synthetic claims and/or suggest areas for further discussion. During the quarter you may skip up to two discussion memos with no consequences.

I also expect everyone to read the memos authored by other members of the class each week (and may wind up shuffling some of the Canvas settings to facilitate this).

Lead discussant role[edit]

Each graduate student will also be required to serve as a lead discussant for at least one section meeting during the quarter. Details and expectations will be discussed in the first section meeting. Basically, the lead discussant role will be to lead-off the conversation by elaborating some core themes, concerns, and/or topics in order to spark further discussion. You may draw these themes, concerns, and/or topics from the readings, lectures, and discussion memos. Lead discussants will be asked to limit their opening remarks to about 10 minutes, after which time we will open up the conversation to the entire group. Lead discussants will also be invited to synthesize any key takeaways and discussion points at the conclusion of the section meeting. Please note that serving as lead discussant does not imply that you are expected to dominate the conversation!

Your role in the Wikipedia Assignment[edit]

We'll talk about this during the first week of section.

For the Wikipedia Assignment, graduate student course members will be assigned to a team with undergraduate course members. While we do not expect you to lead/direct the work of the group in any sort of strong managerial sense, it's worth acknowledging that you'll be the senior members of your respective teams. With that in mind, you are encouraged to take a leadership role and take some responsibility for ensuring smooth and effective collaboration among the group members. This will likely mean different things for each of you and for each team, so please feel free to get in touch with a member of the teaching team if/when you have questions, run into obstacles, and/or just want to vent about how it's going. We're here to listen and, if possible, help.

Final project: Original research project[edit]

Graduate students in the course will be required to complete an original research project. This project may take the form of (1) a detailed research plan/proposal; (2) a replication/revisit of an important and influential study; (3) a completed original research manuscript (i.e., a "submission-ready" draft of a journal article or conference paper). Please note that you are also required to submit an abstract/proposal for the project and you must submit a new abstract/proposal at least two weeks before the project due date if you want to change the topic/direction substantially.

Project abstract/proposal due: February 23 (submit via Canvas)
Completed project due: March 16 (submit via Canvas)

Abstract/proposal details[edit]

Final project abstracts/proposals are due February 23, 2022 via Canvas.

Please submit a brief abstract/proposal describing your plans for your final project. The abstract/proposal should be about 500 words long, although you may submit more or less if you like. Please be sure to provide enough information so that someone unfamiliar with your project (like me) can understand what you plan to work on and what sort of final submission you expect to produce (in about 3 weeks). Also, please note if there are any dependencies or resources you need for the project that you do not yet have and that might prevent you from producing the final submission as you envision it.

Also, please note that I will ask every member of the class to provide feedback on two colleagues' abstracts. These peer review assignments will be made via Canvas on February 24. Peer reviews should be completed within 72 hours if possible and no later than February 28.

Project details[edit]

Final projects are due March 16, 2022 via Canvas.

The final project for the course should consist of original research work that you conduct/lead. The specific scope/content of the final project may vary depending on whether you pursue a (1) detailed research plan; (2) replication/revisit; (3) submission-ready manuscript; or something else. In general, I ask that you limit your submissions to no more than 6,000 words. Please contact me if you would like examples of either detailed research plans or replication reports.

I am flexible about how you format your work, but recommend you adopt an existing manuscript style that corresponds to the norms of a scholarly journal or conference where you might aim to publish your work. Please use a standard format that is readable, visually appealing, and straightforward. Two standard formats (with widely available templates) you might consider are the PACMHCI format (in use in several ACM Conferences these days) or APA style (from 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual) (in use in several ICA-affiliated journals). Standard reference formats (APA, Chicago, ASA, PACM/HCI, IEEE) are absolutely necessary.


Week 2: Definitions (01.13)[edit]

Lead discussant
Taewook Kim

Week 3: Participation (01.20)[edit]

Lead discussant
Mowafak Allaham

Week 4: Newcomers (01.27)[edit]

Lead discussant
Jamie Cooley

Week 5: Identity (02.03)[edit]

Lead discussant
Richard Zhang

Week 6: Governance (02.10)[edit]

Lead discussant
Emily Andrews

Week 7: Quality (02.17)[edit]

Lead discussant
Katherine O'Toole

Week 8: Profit (02.24)[edit]

Lead discussant

Carl Colglazier

Week 9: AI (03.03)[edit]

Collective lead discussant!

Week 10: Wrap up (03.10)[edit]